Superior Court Drug Court Program

Drug Court Contact Information  

Savannah - Chatham County Drug Court

133 Montgomery St.
Suite 616
Savannah GA 31401
(912) 652-7144

Drug Court  is held each Tuesday at 8:00 AM and each Wednesday at 3:00 PM in Courtroom J, on the 4th floor of the Judicial Courthouse.

These sessions are open to the public, and we encourage visitors. Map & directions to the Chatham County Courthouse

 

Drug Court Overview

Chatham County has helped to make Drug Court a successful reality. The program has rescued the clients that the Court serves from lives of addiction, despair, and incarceration, enabling them to live rich, rewarding, productive lives.

  • 18-24 month intensive outpatient treatment program consisting of five phases.
     
  • All participants must:
    • Attend group counseling sessions several times per week;
    • Attend individual counseling as required;
    • Attend required Community Support meetings weekly; 
    • Attend Drug Court as phases require;
    • Submit to random drug screens at least twice per week;
  • Graduation Requirements:
    • Work toward a G.E.D.;
    • Perform 80 hours of community service;
    • Pay $1,500 toward the cost of treatment;
    • Pay child support and restitution obligations; and
    • Remain drug free for at least 9 months.

“What you learn is that drug courts, which involve treatment for all the individuals and real support – along with sanctions when they fail – are a more cost effective method of dealing with drug problems than either probation or prison.” (Institute for Applied Research, 2004).

“Ultimately, the power of drug court lies in improving lives and saving families.   Drug courts give hope to the hopeless by reuniting parents with children, citizens with their community, and spouses with one another.”
-- NCDI, Painting the Current Picture:  National Report Card on Drug Courts, May, 2008, p. 3.

The Drug Court wishes to thank the Chatham County Commission and the taxpayers of Chatham County for their support.


Drug Court Goals

The goal of the Savannah-Chatham County Drug Court is to reduce substance use disorder and drug-related criminal activity. Drug Court offers a choice to individuals whose criminal justice involvement stems primarily from drug and alcohol abuse. Drug Court affords these offenders the opportunity to participate in a 18 month-24 month (based on progress), five phase, intensive outpatient substance use disorder treatment program. In exchange for successful completion of the Drug Court program, a defendant's probation will be terminated, and his First Offender status will remain intact (if the defendant entered the program with First Offender status). For other defendants, participation in Drug Court allows the defendant to avoid prison or probation detention center time while receiving substance abuse treatment.

SCCDC is a hybrid accountability court with pre-adjudication, post-plea, and probation revocation paths to entry. 

 

Pre-adjudication:  Upon acceptance into the program, the participant must be enrolled and successfully complete the SCCDC program.  While in SCCDC, participants are required to confirm to a performance contract.  The participant agrees and understands that if s/he fails to comply with all conditions of the program and fails to complete the program successfully, s/he will be sentenced according to:  a) a sentence agreement previously negotiated, or b) an open-ended sentence at the discretion of the Court in which the participant would be unable to withdraw the plea after sentencing.


Upon successful completion of the program, the prosecutor shall move the Court to nolle prosequi (dismiss) the case by written order signed by the judge.


Post-plea: The participant must voluntarily plead guilty to the charged offense(s) in order to enter the program. By successfully completing the SCCDC program, participants are able to avoid a sentence of incarceration, shorten the term of probation, and/or consolidate multiple probation sentences. As with pre-adjudication participants, post-plea participants are required to conform to a performance contract while in SCCDC.

Probation revocation: The participant, on probation, may enter the program if they violate the terms of their probation. The sentence shall be modified to reflect the special condition of participation in and successful completion of the SCCDC program. As with pre-adjudication and post-plea participants, probation revocation participants are required to conform to a performance contract while in SCCDC.

Drug Court referrals generally come from the District Attorney's Office, the Public Defender's Office, Probation, or from a private practice defense attorney. The Drug Court team meets weekly to discuss referrals and to review current participants' progress in the Drug Court program.

Drug Court uses a non-adversarial team-centered approach to address participants' cases. The Judge is the central figure on the Drug Court team. Participants appear in court weekly during Orientation and Phases One and Two of the program, biweekly during Phase Three, and monthly during Phase Four. At these court sessions, the Judge conducts reviews of participant’s progress, focusing on sobriety and accountability as the main goals. The Judge's role is to keep participants focused and engaged in treatment and recovery through a Twelve Step based treatment program (including various Community Support meetings). The Drug Court treatment providers (substance abuse counselors contracted through Recovery Place) focus on developing a therapeutic relationship with each participant. Treatment providers also keep the Court informed of each participant's progress so that rewards and sanctions can be administered.

 


What is Drug Court?

The Savannah-Chatham County Drug Court operates consistent with its Policy Manual, which incorporates the National Association of Drug Court Professionals' Drug Court Standards Committee's Ten Key Components of Drug Courts. Drug Court's rules are well defined and easy to understand. Adherence to the Drug Court rules is within the individual's ability to control and comply. Success or failure is based on the participant's performance, and the results are readily measurable: the participant either appears in court or does not; attends treatment sessions or does not; frequent, random drug testing reveals drug use or abstinence. The participant's performance is communicated directly to the Judge, who rewards progress or penalizes poor performance and noncompliance. The Savannah-Chatham County Drug Court establishes an environment where the participants are encouraged to take control of their own recovery.

Drug Courts, including the Savannah-Chatham County Drug Court, follow the Drug Court Standards approved by the Judicial Council of Georgia. Drug Courts are intended to change offender and addictive behavior through a team approach. This team involves a Judge (the Honorable James F. Bass, Jr.), an assistant district attorney, public defender, a Community Supervision officer, several sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement personnel, substance abuse treatment providers, a treatment case manager, and a Drug Court Coordinator.

Participants in Drug Courts are persons who have committed non-violent drug related crimes and have no history of drug sales offenses. The length of the program is usually 24- 30 months. Participants can complete the program in a minimum of 18 months; 9 months of continuous sobriety is required in order for a participant to graduate from the program.

Drug Court uses a non-adversarial team-centered approach to address participants' cases. The Judge is the central figure on the Drug Court team. Participants appear in court weekly during Phase One, Phase Two, and Phase 3 of the program, biweekly during Phase Four, and monthly during Phase Five. At these court sessions, the Judge conducts reviews of participant’s progress, focusing on sobriety and accountability as the main goals. The Judge's role is to keep participants focused and engaged in treatment and recovery through a Twelve Step based treatment program (including various Community Support meetings). The Drug Court treatment providers (substance abuse counselors contracted through Recovery Place) focus on developing a therapeutic relationship with each participant. Treatment providers also keep the Court informed of each participant's progress so that rewards and sanctions can be administered.

For more information about Savannah-Chatham County Drug Court, please call Patricia W. Pinkney, Drug Court Coordinator, at (912) 652-7144. We also encourage you to come observe a Drug Court session. Judge Bass presides over two Drug Court sessions per week: Tuesdays at 8:00 a.m. and Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m. Drug Court sessions are held in Courtroom 4A on the Fourth Floor of the Chatham County Judicial Courthouse located at 133 Montgomery Street, Savannah, Georgia.

Referrals

  • From Probation during the probation violation process
  • By counsel (i.e., the Assistant District Attorney and Defense Attorney or Public Defender)

Eligibility Criteria

All participants in SCCDC must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Age 18 or older;
  • U.S. citizen;
  • Resident of Chatham County;
  • Pending felony charge or a violation of probation with at least two (2) years of probation remaining;
  • Facts and charges that substantiate active substance use disorder;
  • Approved by the District Attorney and the Public Defender (or their designees); and
  • Willing to enter SCCDC program.

The following factors disqualify individuals from participating in SCCDC:

  • Violent or sex offender or current gun charges
  • Charges in other counties that cannot be resolved;
  • Previously terminated from SCCDC due to AWOL status; and/or
  • Impairment that would interfere with the individual’s ability to actively participate in and successfully complete the program.
A general description of the entry process into the SCCDC program is reflected in the below flow chart. While the time from arrest to entry into the SCCDC necessarily varies based on the specific facts of each participant’s case (e.g., participant is released on bond and waits to apply for SCCDC), the target average length of time from arrest to entry into the SCCDC program is 30 days. Upon a participant’s application to SCCDC, the SCCDC Team flags and attempts to resolve any barriers to entry (e.g., housing issues) that may prevent it from meeting this 30-day target (to the extent that those barriers are within the Team’s control).

Savannah - Chatham County Drug Court

133 Montgomery St.
Suite 616
Savannah GA 31401
(912) 652-7144

Drug Court  is held each Tuesday at 8:00 AM and each Wednesday at 3:00 PM in Courtroom J, on the 4th floor of the Judicial Courthouse.

These sessions are open to the public, and we encourage visitors. Map & directions to the Chatham County Courthouse


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